Lachlan MacKinnon's fourth collection opens with a gathering of lyrics and descriptive poems: observing rites of passage (elegies, wedding poems), offering nuanced accounts of places and their patchwork afterlives (the Midlands, a Suffolk sketchbook), or meditations on historical figures introspectively at odds with their time (King Canute, Edward Thomas). This preoccupation with contingency -- personal and historical -- opens onto The Book of Emma: a long poem of fifty-four sections, written mostly in prose, which address a lost friend and contemporary in terms which seem laconically factual, but which draw their power from archaic conventions (Egyptian, Celtic) of talking to the dead.

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